Thursday 4 January 2018

CRT Jottings - Boaters Representatives Meeting

CRT Boaters Representatives meeting
3 Jan 2018

Yesterday (3rd Jan) was one of the periodic meetings between CRT and the Elected Boater Representatives on the National Council, an opportunity to explore issues both parties want to raise.

The main subjects discussed on this occasion included:

1. Trust management restructure.

  • The aim behind this restructure is to improve efficiency and at the same time to improve agility to respond to customer needs.
  • The trust has operated for 5 years within the structure developed during the transition from BW and it is now an opportune time to update itself.
  • The 2014 centralisation changes had many positives outcomes, but also some negative impacts on the flexibility of regional teams, and this process will address these issues.
  • The Trust will move to six regions each with a Regional Director with teams to deploy according to local needs.
  • The elements of the Trust which are best served by a national approach will be retained (eg. water management).
  • The Waterways Partnerships will be revised to reflect the new regions and given a clearer mandate to develop local strategy, income generation and local engagement.
  • This process is on going with the statutory consultation starting in mid December and running till mid February.
  • All senior managers (about 85) are impacted, a population which will reduce as roles are redefined.
  • A simplified "flatter" management grading system will be adopted.
  • The Representatives flagged a number of potential issues at both a governance and a practical on the ground level, and these concerns were noted for consideration in the deployment planning process.
2. Short Term Moorings
  • The Feb 2015 paper was revisited to consider if it remains fit for purpose.
  • The feeling both within CRT and among the boater representatives is that the mooring strategy is being applied inconsistently
  • There was a feeling that a "Mooring Etiquette Guide" is needed to help define the standards which are to be encouraged.
  • Particular attention is needed in relation to disabled moorings (these are self policed and CRT do not validate boaters with disabilities)
  • The regional short term mooring period guidance should be clarified to achieve greater consistency when applied.
  • Guidance should also be offered on the expectation to close of gaps between moored boats to maximise the mooring availability, particularly in honeypot sites.
  • There is feedback that some fishermen are asking for spaces to be left between moored boats. It was clarified that this spacing arrangement applies in just two locations and covers just the Winter Moorings. The policy is not applicable generally.
  • The Etiquette issue will be developed within the Navigation Advisory Group (NAG).
3. Wide Beam Boats
  • Feedback was sought on issues relating to the increasing number of widebeam boats navigating and mooring on the canals.
  • Particular issues flagged up included the introduction of wide beams as houseboats on narrow canals, which therefore create a navigation obstacle, unless they remain within a purpose built marina.
  • The increased number of wide beam craft on the Grand Union was highlighted given the limitations of navigable width in the extant water channel. It was observed that the canal was never designed for nor does it have a history of extensive wide beam usage.
  • The disproportionate increase in the introduction of wide beam craft on the Grand Union over the last decade is raising the significance of the issue.
  • It was observed that most wide beams are intended for use as house boats and the need to continually cruise to satisfy the licensing rules actually causes the navigation issue raised. 
  • Ideally the creation of off line moorings for wide beam craft would reduce the numbers navigating to just the occasional relocation trip. This  would also encourage the development of unpowered houseboats more suited for use as a home. 
  • The costs associated with supporting wide beam passages through the Braunston and Blisworth Tunnels was raised.
  • CRT staff listen to the various issues and will consider them in their future planning.
4. Licensing Review
  • As at 18th Dec the third phase of the consultation process had attracted 10,915 responses, which equates to one third of the license holders. 
  • This is a very encouraging response rate and will provide a statistically credible picture of boater views. TONIC (the review contractor) are currently analysing the data with CRT in readiness for a Board Meeting at the end of January.
  • Any changes will be phased in from April 2019 (not the current licensing year).
  • The needs of business boats will be considered in the light of what is agreed for recreational boats and subject to its own consultation process.
5. London Mooring Strategy
  • So far 1250 responses have been received out of a target of 4500, with a few more coming in after an extended deadline.
  • Feedback is being reviewed internally by CRT and results are expected by the end of February.
  • Overall the process applied to this review has attracted positive feedback.


Alan Fincher said...

Thanks for this update Andy - this is helpful.

Leo No2 said...

Andy - that's really helpful - especially the bit about widebeams which affect us down here considerably - I think I see most of the widebeams through Blisworth. Hope you and Helen had a lovely Christmas and New Year. Kathryn

Roger said...

Interesting. Anyone know how the elected 'boaters representatives' know what the views of who they represent are? I mightn't have missed something but I've not seen any feedback from the reps since they were elected. I have also asked questions about what the Partnerships were about at CRT meetings but never really understood. There should be a role for bodies like this to feed into CRT about thoughts of other groups who use the canals other than boaters, no one has ever asked me about this (and I include IWA in this as I have no idea how they 'represent' their members, again no one has every asked my from the IWA about my views, I am a member.

Andy Tidy said...

Roger - thats a fair question. Being elected to the CRT Council is a bit like being elected as an MP in that you try to bring your experience to the table and to fairly represent those who voted for you. I actually represent Business License holders so that is my particular area of interest but as we boat extensively I am as able to take a recreational boaters perspective too. Getting feedback is always tricky so I publish my CRT Jottings in my blog after each meeting which aims to be informative but still maintain confidentiality on any sensitive / legally precluded issues.
The Partnerships are going through a process of change to make them more effective and each partnership chair has a seat on the National Council. The National Council draws from a very broad range of interest groups including canoeing and ramblers for instance - this giving them a say.
I cant say much about the IWA because I am not a member of that organisation.

Unknown said...

I have provided feedback when I attended; unfortunately, my illness means I cannot attend all meetings

Roger said...

I stood in the last election, finished a distant 6th and still try to keep up to date with what's going on, not easy to find out about council, or elected reps, activities without a lot of research. Being a 'friend' of Stella helps a lot but I wonder what happens for those without Twitter. As for how the other reps communicate I have no idea.

Partnerships, I guess someone needs to sit down to see what us needed and how that's best achieved - certainly the old structure didn't seem to achieve much.